Interview: Cherry Li Photos: by Swissôtel Beijing Hong Kong Macau Center
<Grand Hotels>: At the very beginning you worked as general manager of the Swissôtel Kunshan, and later you joined in Swissotel and resorts. Since then, 8 years have passed. You have worked as the general manger of Swiss Hotels & Resorts for 8 years. So the hotel of Swiss brand may have some extraordinary significance for you. Could you please talk about it?
Mr. Stephen Fewell: Swissôtel, part of the FRHI group, including Fairmont & Raffles hotels & resorts have allowed me to grow by providing opportunities with a strong focus on training and development. With our roots in Switzerland, we embrace the countries iconic features, natural, green, quality etc. We also want to be responsible to the environment we all live in. Swissôtel believe asking guests if they want to have fresh towels or not each day is no longer enough. We have Green Ambassadors and committees established in all our hotels whose sole purpose is to develop and improve environmental awareness and implement better practices such as buying as many products and produce within a 100 km radius of the hotels. The company has given me the opportunity to work in many interesting place, most recently I have completed an assignment in Russia.
<Grand Hotels>: What opportunities do you have when you chose to work in Swissôtel Beijing Hong Kong Macau Center? What are your comments on this hotel? What is it that attracts you most at Swissôtel Beijing Hong Kong Macau Center? Do you think in what aspects you can better improve yourself in this hotel? And what is your expectation of the hotel in next stage?
Mr. Stephen Fewell: Swissôtel Beijing is one of Beijing iconic hotels, for 23 years it has been at the forefront of the Beijing hotel industry and through the entire time Swissôtel has played the key management role. I did not hesitate to accept an offer to manage the property, following in the footsteps of some of our companies key leaders, and joining one of Swissôtel’s most successful hotels. I am always surprised at how big our hotels foot print is, taking up a major part of the block and sitting above DongSiShitiao station, its location is one of the best in the city, of course 23 years ago it might have been seen as a bit “out” of the city but today on the second ring road it is well and truly downtown Beijing
<Grand Hotels>: Nowadays, the high-end hotel brands have settled in China one after another, and the competition is becoming increasingly fierce. Compared with high-end hotels of other brands, what are the competitive advantages of your hotel?
Mr. Stephen Fewell: The hotel sector in China is very competitive with many choices, Swissôtel has an excellent reputation for quality, it is a well respected international hotel company. We truly believe that the way we look after our colleagues is critical to our success. We insist that all our managers share our philosophy on being caring, humble, motivational and consistent in all our contact with guests and colleagues. Hospitality is a service industry, more than any other industry human resources is a crucial factor to the success of a hotel. Hotels are judged on the quality of service the staff deliver, the hotel industry is all about people, both clients and the staff that look after the guests needs. Swissôtel has a single minded strategy when it comes to human resources, to develop the individuals potential, and to provide skills training that best suites the individuals department, in order to deliver service of an exceptional standard.
<Grand Hotels>: During the past 23 years, your career path has spanned several cities, so what are your deepest and dearest thoughts and feelings? In adapting to different cultures in different countries, what have you been done to integrate your own hotel management concepts with local culture? And during this process, presumably there will be some interesting episodes, could you talk about it?
Mr. Stephen Fewell: It has always been my China dream to live in Beijing, one of the truly great cities of the world, now here I am, living and working at Swissôtel Beijing. My China adventure started 9 years ago when I accepted a position in a small government owned hotel in Danyang, Jiangsu. At that time I was the only westerner in the city and as such I was called upon to participate in many community activates, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially giving the key note speech at the local school for their 50 years anniversary, the children, whom most of them had never seen a westerner before except on TV, were very excited and appreciative.
<Grand Hotels>: What qualities do you think professional hotel managers must have? What do you think are the real service spirits? And out of them, which are derived from the brand of "Swiss Hotels & Resorts"?
Mr. Stephen Fewell: Being an international hotel operator, it is important that there is a uniform culture of service throughout the hotel. With key training programs designed at our Zurich base to provide a consistency in our service delivery whilst not restricting spontaneous colleague performance and also being respectful to local traditions and culture. It is also true that the modern Human Resources Departments plays a more business critical role than perhaps just 10 years ago. Today we understand fully that our most precious asset and indeed, also our most expensive asset is our people. Our Service must be pro active, provide innovation in training whist managing productivity.
<Grand Hotels>: Usually, what do you want most badly to share with your team members? What spirits, attitudes and problem-solving ways do you expect from your team under your leadership? And what impress you most in discovering the highlights from them?
Mr. Stephen Fewell: The development of Chinese nationals is our prime focus. In the current climate there are too many hotels and not enough qualified local talent to meet the demand. At Swissôtel we believe we must play a proactive role in recognizing and developing Chinese colleagues of high potential, not just for today but to supply senior managers to cope with the future. We are recognizing such colleagues now and enrolling them into various training programs. Also, we intend to send a number of them to our sister hotels, not just in China but throughout the world. This is designed to provide them with a learning opportunity in established markets, such as our own base in Switzerland whilst becoming even more inducted into the brand culture.
<Grand Hotels>: Most hotels have provided more than the services of banquet and housing, and the industry competition tend to be increasingly diversified especially in local delicious foods and multi-culture. Therefore, in the overall operation of the hotel, would you plan to devote more to delicious foods with local characteristics?
Mr. Stephen Fewell: At our hotel we want to promote dishes that reflect our Swiss heritage, as such we feature an authentic Cheese Fondue - Swiss Cheese Fondue @ Café Swiss, Similar to Chinese hot pot, fondue is a traditional dish from Switzerland, simple in preparation-the cheese is melted from the bottom of the pot, skewer a fresh baked bread cube using the unique “Swiss” fondue forks, accompanied by crunchy pickled cucumber, small potatoes and cherry tomatoes. Another key item on our menu is the Original Raclette - Raclette is a meal that is well known as a classic indigenous Swiss dish. Traditionally, the cheese is melted by the grill, then scraped onto a plate of potatoes and pickles
史蒂芬先生: 瑞士酒店品牌属于FRHI 酒店国际集团，旗下包括费尔蒙酒店及度假村、莱佛士酒店及度假村。这为我个人在训练和发展方面提供大量的机会。该品牌源于瑞士，整个集团着重于瑞士标志性特色，如自然，天然，有品质等等。我们同样也本着对生活环境负责的态度。瑞士酒店认为每天更换毛巾是不再必要的行为。我们所有的瑞士品牌酒店都有专门的绿色形象大使和相关委员会，他们的唯一目的是开发提升人们的环保意识，并且更好的将环保意识用到实践当中。这就好像是我们买东西，而制造地就在购物100km范围以内。公司给我提供了大量的机会让我能够去很多有意思的地方工作，最近我和俄罗斯的分部刚完成签约。
史蒂芬先生: 我们酒店想推广一些关于瑞士特色的美食，比如：在我们酒店的瑞士咖啡厅将会呈现给大家正宗的瑞士芝士火锅，这道菜是最知名的瑞士料理了，类似于中国的火锅。特定的芝士放在锅子里加热、熔化，待芝士变成稠稠的液体状之后，再用专用的芝士火锅餐叉取一小块新鲜出炉的面包与腌制过后的脆黄瓜、樱桃小番茄、土豆一起加入锅中。我们菜单上还有一道地道的瑞士拉克莱特 芝士—通俗来说，就是烘烤过的奶酪切块放入土豆和咸菜中。